How do dentists confront the professional quandary that is Halloween? Delta Dental was curious and recently conducted the “Tricky Treats” survey via email. Of more than 250 dentists who responded, we found that nearly one out of four dentists said they do not hand out anything on Halloween, while five percent attack the holiday head on by handing out toothbrushes. Still, 60 percent indicate that they give out candy.
Of the dentists who hand out candy, 79 percent choose chocolate, while just 13 percent hand out varieties like hard candy or lollipops. And there’s a good reason for this confectionery choice. When it comes to teeth and sugar, it’s really a matter of time. Chocolate dissolves quickly in the mouth and can be eaten easily, which decreases the amount of time sugar stays in contact with teeth. Tooth decay occurs when candy and other sweets mix with bacteria in the sticky plaque that constantly forms on teeth to produce acid, which can wear away enamel. Chewy, sticky treats are particularly damaging because not only are they high in sugar, but they spend a prolonged amount of time stuck to teeth and are more difficult for saliva to break down. Hard candies are tough on teeth as well because kids tend to suck on them at a leisurely pace for an extended period of time.
Delta Dental offers these additional tricks for dealing with Halloween treats:
- Try to ensure children eat a good, hearty meal prior to trick-or-treating, so there will be less temptation to gorge on candy.
- Promote good oral health care habits to your children year-round by encouraging twice daily brushing with fluoridated toothpaste, daily flossing and regular dental checkups.
- Don’t buy Halloween candy too far in advance to avoid the temptation for children (and adults) to get a head start on the splurge.
- Before Halloween, ask your dentist about sealants to protect the decay-prone grooves in your child’s molar teeth.
To learn more about keeping kids’ teeth healthy, visit www.trickytreats.org